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Leica Unveils Compact X1
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posted on Sep 9, 2009 at 8:54PM

Leica Unveils Compact X1

By Emily Raymond
  • First model in new compact digital camera line
  • 12.2 megapixels
  • APS-C size image sensor
  • Fixed 24mm f/2.8 Leica Elmarit Lens
  • 11-point autofocus
  • 3 fps burst mode
(Credit: Leica)

Leica debuted the beginning of a new series with today’s announcement of the X1. The new digital camera features a large APS-C image sensor along with a fixed 24mm, f/2.8 lens. The 12.2-megapixel Leica X1 will be available in January 2010.


The Leica X1’s main feature is its CMOS image sensor. It measures 23.6 x 15.8mm, the same size that is included in many DSLRs. Because the sensor has a larger surface area, it can capture more light and achieve lower noise, higher dynamic range, and more accurate colors, according to the company’s press release.


The large sensor is paired with a solid fixed lens, the Leica Elmarit 24mm f/2.8 Asph. According to the Sept. 9 press release, the lens is “transformed into a universal reportage lens with an effective (35mm equivalent) focal length of 36mm.”


“The Leica Elmarit 1:2.8/24 Asph. is a true Leica lens with terrific optical performance,” said Peter Kruschewski, product manager, compact digital cameras at Leica Camera AG, in today’s press release. “Its moderate wide-angle character creates sufficient distance when needed, but still allows photographers to get in close to pick out the details whenever the situation requires.”


The Leica X1 has a retro look similar to the M-series rangefinders, but keeps more compact measurements of 124 x 32 x 59.5 mm (4.88 x 1.26 x 2.34 inches). The X1 boasts all-metal construction, but still keeps its weight at 10 ounces. Of course, the weights and measures are affected by what accessories are used and Leica offers plenty of them for the X1.


The Leica X1 has a built-in pop-up flash, but also has a hot shoe for Leica SF 24D and SF 58 flash accessories. The hot shoe can also be used for a 36mm bright-line viewfinder. If the camera simply feels too compact, an optional hand grip can be screwed on for a little more comfort.


Because the X1 doesn’t have a built-in viewfinder, the camera uses the live view on the 2.7-inch LCD screen. Full manual control is available on the X1, with retro-style dials atop the camera for aperture and shutter speed, along with priority and automated shooting modes.


The Leica X1 uses an 11-point autofocus system and has a quick 3 fps burst mode. It can shoot in JPEG or DNG (RAW). The full-featured X1 has competition from the Sigma DP2, which has the same large-sensor-fixed-lens concept. The Sigma DP2 has a slightly smaller 20.7 x 13.8mm CMOS with 14.06 megapixels. It pairs its sensor with a 24.2mm, f/2.8 lens that has a 35mm equivalent of 41mm. The Sigma DP2 isn’t as thin but still has similar compact dimensions. Like the X1, the DP2 has a 3 fps burst mode and SD/SDHC compatibility.


As a bonus, Leica is offered Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to all X1 customers. The software will be available as a free online download to those who purchase the high-end compact.

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